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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 14:34 GMT
Taiwan offers celestial burials
CEO of Texas-based Celestis, an orbital funeral services company, Robert Tysor, right, and Chairman of Baushan, Tony Liu
Customers can send remains into space for $12,000
A US firm has begun offering its Space burial services in Taiwan.

Cemetery space is at a premium in Taiwan, but it is uncertain whether the service will be popular in a country with strong traditional beliefs.

Robert Tysor, chief executive of Celestis, explained how ashes are packed into a tube the size of a lipstick holder and blasted into Space.

The tube may orbit Earth for months or even years before it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and burns up.

Yeh Feng-chiang, manager of Taiwan funeral service company Bau Shan Enterprise Group which signed the deal with Celestis, told reporters: "Whenever the Moon rises, you can look up into the sky and remember the deceased."

But he admitted that Celestis' rule that only one- or seven-gram portions of the deceased's ashes may dissuade customers from signing up for the service.

"Most of them were very curious, but they want to go up whole because we Chinese have a tradition of leaving a complete body behind," he said.

He added that people may also feel short-changed by Celestis' advice that only one or two relatives attend the sending-off.

"Chinese people like a crowd to be at every event around the funeral," he said.

Celestis, a Houston-based company, will shoot remains into Space for T$400,000 (US$12,000). The price includes a traditional funeral in Taiwan. For about NT$1m (US$30,000), customers can also have remains sent to the Moon.

The company already offers its services in Japan, and other countries round the world.

Firm offers Moon burial
10 May 00  |  Science/Nature

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